Watch for these two, then don’t touch…

The return of long, sunny days definitely help motivate us all to get outdoors and enjoy nature.  It is truly a beautiful and vibrant time to be out in the woods or meadows, or to take an extended stroll along your favorite trail.  In fact, if you are looking for local options to consider, please peruse through the sites listed on my Area Nature Preserves, Parks and Trails page.

Wherever you choose to wander, please remember to recognize two particular plants and, if you do come across them, be sure to avoid touching them.  Both are beginning to bloom now and I thought this would be a good opportunity for a reminder about each.

This native shrub/vine occurs in woodlands and in thickets, but rarely in meadows.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

The small, 5-part, greenish-yellow flowers then produce whitish berries, appearing later this summer.

In autumn, this shrub/vine displays some attractive fall color.  Clearly, this is the ONLY redeeming quality of this plant!

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the highly variable appearance (and margins) of its leaves, it may be helpful (and wise) to generally follow this simple rule:  “With leaves of three, let it be.”

The second plant is becoming an increasing menace along many roadsides and some trail corridors, as well as in many open meadows.

Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

This plant will continue to bloom for the next several weeks.

Unlike Poison-ivy, Wild Parsnip’s toxin reacts with sunlight on your skin.  That is why it is particularly important for you to remember to look for this plant before doing significant yard work along the boundaries of your lawn or along any road frontage of your property.

For more info about this plant, please refer to this information.

With all that being said, PLEASE do not avoid going back outside!  That is not my message to you!  Instead, simply be cognizant of these two rather distinctive-looking plants and avoid contact with them.

Happy trails!

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Birds and Blooms along Shenantaha

Yesterday was a glorious day to be outside.  I chose to wander some woodland trails along Shenantaha, or what we now refer to as Ballston Creek.

I began my outing at Ballston Creek Preserve and continued my wildflower inventory.  Where a month ago was a carpet of blooming Carolina Spring Beauty, there was now no evidence to suggest that the plant was even present on this property.  Those spring ephemeral wildflowers are like that.  Same with Trout Lily – no evidence to indicate that they, too, are a common resident here.  The lone species that I spied as a new entry on my inventory was this beautiful, albeit invasive, plant –

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris

While standing at the edge of the marsh at the end of Pat’s Trail, I surveyed this expanse to see what other “new arrivals” were occupying the many nests in the dead trees.

Heron rookery in meadow along Ballston Creek

Heron rookery in meadow along Ballston Creek

Every heron nest appeared to have at least one occupant awaiting its feeding.

Great Blue Heron adult with 3 nestlings

Great Blue Heron adult with 3 nestlings

I was unable to view any such occupants of the lone Osprey nest, but both parents obliged with this photo op –

Osprey pair in nest in marsh along Ballston Creek

Osprey pair in nest in marsh along Ballston Creek

I then backtracked to the small parking lot at the entrance to Shenantaha Creek Park.  From there, I continued my outing on the woodland trails at this park.

I found several species in bloom –

Maple-leaved Viburnum

Maple-leaved Viburnum

Bush Honeysuckle

Bush Honeysuckle

Large Blue Flag

Large Blue Flag

Purple-flowering Raspberry on shale bedrock cliff face along Shenantaha

Purple-flowering Raspberry on shale bedrock cliff face along Shenantaha

Branching Bur Reed

Branching Bur Reed

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris

I also found a few new entries for my inventory at this property.  All in all, a productive as well as therapeutic outing.

Happy trails!